Over the years, we’ve helped several of our clients develop their brands. We methodically step them through the process and work together to build a brand that is differentiated from the competition in a way that is relevant to their customers. Then we hand them their new brand and say “OK, good luck!”
Developing an “own-able” brand is a true accomplishment. It requires diligent research on the target and competition. It requires an understanding of the long term vision, and the desired perception in the market place. It often requires making tough decisions while prioritizing the personality, credibility and differentiation factors that make your brand, YOUR brand. So it would be crazy to invest all those resources, and then not follow through to ensure that your employees are delivering on that brand. Yet that is exactly what happens in many cases.
Recently my wife visited a local “fast-casual” restaurant (I’ll refrain from mentioning the name, although it’s very tempting) to pick-up carry-out for the family. This particular business positions itself as having not only better food than the fast-food places, but also providing a better overall experience. When one sees their marketing, one comes away feeling that the experience of buying dinner there will be almost Zen-like, with high quality, healthy food supplemented by a soothing, easy purchase experience. A far cry from the obnoxious, “who cares” service that you would get at one of those OTHER fast-food places.
To make a long story short, my wife’s brand experience did not at all line up with the way the company positions itself. Why? One single employee who clearly didn’t believe in, or deliver on, the brand. The food was great. But the service was rude. End result? Two potential brand-fans who are now not interested in ever going back for another try. Not because of the marketing. Not because of the product. Because of the experience.
Delivering on the brand at every touch point is crucial to success. As my colleague, Michael Deiner pointed out in his November post, “Great Brands Begin Internally.”
Once you’ve educated your employees on the brand, challenge them to think of how they can integrate the brand into what they do every day. Meet with the various departments and discuss specific action items that will allow them to be true to the brand. If they work in HR, challenge them to develop ways to incorporate the brand into interviewing and employee review processes. If they work in customer service, encourage them to think of ways to effectively represent the brand when they are interacting with customers. Reward positive “brand behavior”, and recognize those individuals publicly to encourage others to follow their lead. Through ongoing workshops and training, we work with our clients to effectively infuse the brand into the daily lives of their employees.
You work very hard to provide great product and services. You invest in your marketing communications to tell the story. But have you given enough thought to how the brand is delivered by your employees every day? Maybe it’s time.